CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, October 13, 2008

Unprecedented Number of Federal Judges under Investigation?

U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent is the first federal judge to be indicted for alleged federal sex crimes, but he's only the latest in a string of jurists to face misconduct allegations in 2008, for behavior such as frequenting a topless club or lying under oath.

Nationwide, four other federal judges are being investigated for, among other things, taking cash from lawyers, using an escort service, posting nude photos on a personal Web site and abusing power in court.

The flurry of federal disciplinary activity appears unprecedented under the modern review system, established by Congress in 1980, according to experts and official court statistics.

``As far as I know, we've never had anything like this,'' said Arthur Hellman, a federal judicial disciplinary expert and professor at the University of Pittsburgh law school.

Kent, who sat on the Galveston bench for 17 years before being transferred to Houston last year, is the only federal judge to confront an ongoing public criminal investigation.

He's been indicted but pleaded not guilty to charges he improperly touched a female court employee and attempted to force her to perform oral sex.

He faces a trial on Jan. 26 before U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Pensacola, who was specially assigned to oversee the case.

Four other federal judges in California, Colorado and Louisiana confront various stages of judicial disciplinary review - including U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous Jr. of New Orleans, who is being investigated for possible impeachment by the judiciary committee of the House.

Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]

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